In response to our first blog entry, Laibel ben Aaron raised the idea of Jewish comedy. We came across a short but clever joke, that lends a bit of humor to the discussion of religion.
A man says to his neighbor, “Our rabbi speaks directly with G-d.”
“That’s impossible!” the neighbor exclaims.
“Would G-d communicate with a liar?” is the believer’s comeback.
But in all seriousness, Laibel ben Aaron’s main observation – that some view Judaism as a religion, others as a culture – reflects a debate that’s been going on since the crisis of faith that began in the late nineteenth century.
Some nations are easier to define; others, such as the Jewish people, are much more difficult. At the core, we share a religion doctrine, but Jews and Judaism encompass varied traditions, ethnicities, races, cultures.
If a Jewish person chooses to celebrate one of those aspects, say the Hebrew language for example, is that enough to form a Jewish identity, to make him or her Jewish?
The flip side, of course, is can a gentile who forms a spiritual connection with let’s say Klezmer music, for example, be considered Jewish? This latter proposition is somewhat absurd, but it makes one ponder: Aside from birthright, what is it that makes someone Jewish?